FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear joined legislative leaders from both parties to sign bipartisan legislation appropriating funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to create jobs, build better schools, expand broadband and invest in infrastructure, including clean drinking water. The Governor also signed House Bill 574, which expands voting opportunities in Kentucky.
Elected officials of both parties, including Senate President Robert Stivers, Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins, and Secretary of State Michael Adams, joined Gov. Beshear in the Capitol Rotunda for today’s bill signings.
The Governor signed four bills related to American Rescue Plan Act funds:
House Bill 320 and House Bill 382
Reliable, high-speed internet access has proven critical to achieving success in education, health care outcomes, and economic development. Currently, the state’s broadband infrastructure does not extend to every community, resulting in unequal opportunities among Kentuckians. House Bill 320 and House Bill 382 provide $300 million to the Broadband Deployment Fund to begin addressing unserved and underserved communities.
House Bill 382 will fund a range of vital initiatives, including full-day kindergarten and the reopening of a medical examiner’s office in Northern Kentucky, which has been without an office since March 2018.
The bill also directs $575 million of the American Rescue Plan funds to the repayment of a federal unemployment insurance loan.
House Bill 556
The Governor supports the much-needed investment in education funding in House Bill 556, which provides $127 million for school construction and $75 million for renovation costs for local vocational schools, which will support building the well-trained local workforce of the future.
The $127 million allocated for renovating and replacing school facilities will accelerate the much-needed improvements of schools that have been designated as the highest-ranked on the Department of Education’s Facilities Inventory and Classification System report.
Kentucky schools currently have $7 billion in facilities needs beyond what they can pay for. Along with creating the quality learning environment our children and educators deserve, this funding will also create 1,000 jobs.
This legislation includes $20 million of funding to rural hospitals.
The bill is the law with the exception of two line-item vetoes, one requested by the General Assembly and one ensuring compliance with the American Rescue Plan Act.
Senate Bill 36
Every Kentucky family deserves access to a modern, reliable water system, and businesses looking to expand in Kentucky expect it. Senate Bill 36 allocates $250 million in grant funds to provide crucial upgrades to water and sewer infrastructure in communities across the commonwealth.
The Better Kentucky Recovery Fund will replace or lay new pipelines to provide clean drinking water and improve sanitary water systems, modernizing infrastructure without raising rates while creating 3,800 to 5,800 direct and indirect jobs.
House Bill 574
Voting is the bedrock of American democracy. House Bill 574 makes it easier for Kentuckians to participate in the electoral process while creating security measures intended to preserve election integrity. Among the provisions of the bill, it allows for early voting, voting centers, and an online portal for requesting absentee ballots. The bill also requires drop boxes, establishes recount procedures, and requires voting machines to create a paper trail of votes cast.